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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

USA persuades India to weaken its nuclear liability law – double standards here

Under pressure from GE and Westinghouse, the two American nuclear vendors hoping to sell billions of dollars worth of reactors to India, the Obama administration has demanded that Section 17(b) and Section 46 of the Indian liability law be deleted or amended.

Double standards? The irony is that American nuclear suppliers operate under a domestic liability regime that allows operators to sue them for recovery of damages in the event of an accident. That is how Metropolitan Edison, the operator of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, sued Babcock Wilcox after the infamous 1979 accident.


Modi,-Narendra-USAWhy India should say no to US demand to dilute its nuclear liability law
 The Modi government should resist pressure from Barack Obama, who landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning, to change key provisions to favour foreign supplier of reactors. Siddharth Varadarajan Scroll.in  26 Jan 15 

With the issue of nuclear liability emerging as an obstacle in the relationship between India and the US, the Modi government is under pressure to dilute the law in favour of foreign reactor suppliers. Without this, we are told, it will not be possible to operationalise the US-India nuclear agreement and provide the country with the electricity its people need.

In the event of a major nuclear accident in India, one which damages lives and property, what does the law say about how liability is to be apportioned? Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

President Obama failed his commitment to reducing nuclear weapons

Obama puppet

 

Over the next 30 years, the bill could add up to $1 trillion. Instead of spending less on nukes, we’re spending more – and a new nuclear arsenal comes at the expense of more important national security programs.

Missing a nuclear opportunity http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/230565-missing-a-nuclear-opportunity 25 Jan 15  By Will Saetren In the State of the Union address, President Obama once again failed to rekindle his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. This is inexcusable. The Cold War ended nearly 25 years ago, but the threat of nuclear annihilation remains. Preventing nuclear disaster is possible, but it requires a serious commitment from all of us – the government, private sector, and regular citizens. Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

USA’s nuclear utilities want ratepayers to cough up for uneconomic nuclear power plants

nukes-hungryAmerica’s nuclear power utilities seek big ratepayer bailouts, Daily Kos.com   by nirsnet JAN 23, 2015 
America’s nuclear power utilities are increasingly saddled with aging, uneconomic reactors. Their operating and maintenance costs are rising, and in many locations they’re no longer able to compete with low-cost natural gas and the growing use of wind and solar power.

For a year now, Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear utility, has been complaining–loudly–that at least five of its 11 Illinois reactors are uneconomic. And the nuclear giant has threatened to close some or all of these reactors if it can’t get some form of bailout (a word Exelon despises, but is nonetheless accurate). Of course, there are many who would feel much better if those threats were actually promises….

But Exelon hasn’t said what it wants Illinois to do about these threats. The utility has said it wants Illinois to institute a vague “market-based solution” to Exelon’s economic problems. Last year, Exelon floated the idea that it needs some $580 million/year in additional revenue to make up for its nuclear fleet’s losses. The utility did get the legislature last year to order state agencies to produce a report that Exelon hoped would provide backing for its position. But that report didn’t exactly do what Exelon wanted. Instead, it found that Illinois could easily handle the threatened reactor shutdowns; that if they occurred, it might bolster clean energy development in the state; and that bailing out Exelon would be expensive.

Why Exelon hasn’t articulated what it wants is obvious: it knows that when it puts down real numbers for the subsidies it seeks, then people will be able to figure out what a bailout may cost. Even the “market-based solution” Exelon wants, which is utility-speak for a means of hiding the costs, will have to have numbers attached to be meaningful………..

Exelon doesn’t appear to be gaining any new friends. Even the Chicago Sun-Times editorialized on the issue, beginning its piece: “The people of Illinois got a bit of good news Wednesday when a report by several state agencies essentially said nobody should rush in with baskets of cash to rescue Exelon’s fleet of nuclear power plants.” The paper said the legislature should “be in no hurry to play along” with Exelon.

NRG Energy, one of Exelon’s major competitors in the state, was even less charitable, saying in a statement to Midwest Energy News,

These reports demonstrate that the economic situation for multiple nuclear facilities is more manageable than originally thought. The report finds that the retirements of the Illinois nuclear fleet won’t cause reliability problems with the state’s electric supply, except under extreme scenarios never before seen in US energy markets. In addition, short-term job losses could be replaced with increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

    In any event, any subsidy to these plants, already paid for many times over, is unnecessary and could easily cost more than the rate increase costs of nuclear plant retirements. Allowing the market to work, which means no “subsidy legislation,” will save ratepayers more than $120 million per year and create almost 10,000 new Illinois jobs between now and 2020.

……….In New York, meanwhile, Exelon is looking for another ratepayer bailout: this one for its antiquated Ginna reactor,  which it says has lost $100 million over the past three years. Exelon wants the NY Public Service Commission to approve a new above-market power purchase contract with Rochester Gas & Electric that would cost ratepayers more than $200/year each. RG&E at first appeared willing to do so, but is now looking at other possible alternatives that would lead to Ginna’s shutdown…..

For its part, the second-largest nuclear utility, Entergy, already closed its uneconomic Vermont Yankee reactor. Its Pilgrim reactor in Massachusetts is also teetering on the edge of viability; Entergy’s solution so far is similar to one of Exelon’s ideas: get Pilgrim included in the state’s new Clean Energy Standard. As in Illinois, this wouldn’t lead to any new carbon reductions, but would serve to prevent investment in new, genuinely clean energy technologies. So far, Massachusetts has held firm in its view that no existing power plants, including Pilgrim, should be included in the new standard, but with a new Republican governor that stance could change. The state will hold public hearings on its standard in March.

Ohio’s FirstEnergy can be added to the list of bailout seekers. It is seeking subsidies that the Ohio Consumers Counsel puts at $3 Billion to keep its Davis-Besse reactor and some old, decrepit coal plants operating.

The portion for Davis-Besse alone is at least $171 million/year and NIRS estimates that the actual price tag may be $225 million/year above the market rate for electricity.

Ohioans are not happy with the prospect of such rate increases. As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported Wednesday, some 200 people crammed into a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) hearing in Cleveland  “to vent rage about the company’s latest rate proposal, and at times, its actions over the last decade.”

As is the case elsewhere, some of FirstEnergy’s power plants, especially the Davis-Besse reactor and the Sammis coal plant, can’t compete with lower cost natural gas and wind power. Since FirstEnergy doesn’t own those gas and wind plants, it wants ratepayers to pay the much higher costs of keeping Davis-Besse and Sammis open……..

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/23/1359730/-America-s-nuclear-power-utilities-seek-big-ratepayer-bailouts#

January 26, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Details remain vague on nuclear deal between Obam and Narendra Modi

Obama and Modi agree to limit US liability in case of nuclear disaster, Guardian,  in Delhi @RobertsDan 26 Jan 15 Decision set to lead to contracts worth billions of dollars but hopes for a US-China-style air pollution deal are dashed. US industrial interests took centre-stage at the start of Barack Obama’s visit to India as he and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, outlined a deal to limit the legal liability of US suppliers in the event of a nuclear power plant catastrophe.
Modi,-Narendra-USA

Thirty years after an infamous chemical leak killed thousands at Union Carbide’s factory in Bhopal, the threat of tough Indian compensation laws has frustrated US hopes of an export boom in the energy sector – despite an agreement by former US president George W Bush to share civil nuclear technology in 2005.

After pressure from US diplomats, the Indian government was thought to have agreed a state-backed insurance scheme that would cap the exposure of nuclear suppliers and open the door to billions of dollars of new contracts. India will also allow closer tracking of spent fuel to limit the risk of it falling into terrorist hands.

“Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our civil nuclear cooperation,” Obama said on Sunday………

Details of the deal remain vague, however, and officials stressed they were still working out the finer arrangements of the scheme, which is designed to avoid the need to change Indian law……….

The two governments also said they had struck deals to share defence technology and improve dialogue in future, with a security hotline between Obama and Modi……….

“Nuclear liability remains the cinder in the eye of the relationship right now,” Rick Rossow, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in Washington last week. “Nuclear cooperation was the high-water mark for our bilateral history and the fact that India’s nuclear liability law precludes American involvement, it stings.”

US suggestions of full legal indemnity for suppliers were knocked by the Indian government, which is wary of trying to overturn a 2010 nuclear liability law in parliament……. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/25/obama-modi-limit-us-liability-nuclear-disaster

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA propaganda system destroys democracy

media-propagandaHOW PROPAGANDA CONQUERS DEMOCRACY, bigOfeature  Nicolas JS Davies January 25, 2015 In recent decades, the US propaganda system has grown more and more sophisticated in the art of “perception management,” now enlisting not only government PR specialists but careerist journalists and aspiring bloggers to push deceptions on the public. By Nicolas JS Davies.

Do we live in a country where citizens are critically informed on the issues of the day by media that operate independently of the government? Or do our political leaders deliberately plant a false view of events and issues in the mind of the public that complicit media then broadcast and amplify to generate public consent for government policy?

This is a basic test of democracy for the citizens of any country. But the very nature of modern propaganda systems is that they masquerade as independent while functioning as the opposite, so the question is not as straightforward as it seems.

In Democracy Incorporated; Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, political scientist Sheldon Wolin examined how America’s “managed democracy” has devolved into “inverted totalitarianism,” concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a small ruling class more efficiently and sustainably than 20th Century “classical totalitarianism” ever succeeded in doing.

Instead of sweeping away the structures of constitutional government like the Fascists, Nazis or Soviets, this “political coming-of-age of corporate power” has more cleverly preserved and co-opted nominally democratic institutions and adapted them to its own purposes.

Self-serving politicians and parties compete for funding in election campaigns run by the advertising industry, to give political investors the most corrupt President, administration and Congress that money can buy, while courts uphold new corporate and plutocratic political rights to ward off challenges to the closed circle of wealth and political power.

Oligarchic corporate control of the media is a critical element in this dystopian system. Under the genius of inverted totalitarianism, a confluence of corrupt interests has built a more effective and durable propaganda system than direct government control has ever achieved.

The editor or media executive who amplifies government and corporate propaganda and suppresses alternative narratives is not generally doing so on orders from the government, but in the interest of his own career, his company’s success in the corporate oligarchy or “marketplace,” and his responsibility not to provide a platform for radical or “irrelevant” ideas.

In this context, a common pattern in five recent cases illustrates how the U.S. government and media systematically deceive the public on critical foreign policy issues, to generate public hostility toward foreign governments and to suppress domestic opposition to economic sanctions and to the threat and use of military force.

1. Non-Existent WMDs in Iraq. ……..

Calling out foreign nations on weak evidence is an essential core element of US propaganda strategy. US officials quickly and loudly establish the narrative they want the public to believe, and leave it to the echo chamber of the complicit US media system to do the rest.

2. Non-Existent WMDs in Iran. …….

US officials believe they can win a global propaganda war, much as they think they won the Cold War. But they seem to be losing the global struggle for hearts and minds… As the lies that clothe our emperor and our empire become ever more transparent, Americans are inevitably growing more skeptical than ever of politicians and the media.

3. Sarin Attack at Ghouta in Syria. ……
4. Who shot down Malaysian Airlines MH 17? ………
Note: Nicolas JS Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. Davies also wrote the chapter on “Obama At War” for the book, Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader. The above article was posted at Information Clearing House.     http://bigozine2.com/feature/

January 26, 2015 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Americans embracing rooftop solar : it makes sense economically

America’s nuclear power utilities seek big ratepayer bailouts  by nirsnet JAN 23, 2015 

“……….Americans aren’t stupid. Solar power simply makes sense, from any angle you look at it: it makes sense environmentally, it makes sense economically. Not only is solar now cheaper than grid electricity in 42 of the 50 largest U.S. cities, but “the numbers show money spent on a residential solar system earns a better return than investing in Standard and Poor’s 500 index fund.”

A new solar installation–mostly rooftop solar–is being installed every 2.5 minutes in the U.S. now; last year it was every four minutes, next year it will be 90 seconds. When it gets to every 15 seconds–or 1/2 million homes/year–which could happen as early as 2018, the 20th century utility business model of mammoth and dirty baseload power plants pumping out electricity to the masses will be upended as the 21st century smart grid based on distributed generation and technological advancement emerges.

community-solar

The Exelons and FirstEnergys of the world are clinging to an outmoded business model based on an outdated electricity generation and distribution system that is being overtaken by modern technology and the ingrained American trait of independence and self-sufficiency. If Americans can provide themselves and their families with their own electricity, and the cost is competitive, they’re going to do that. That people now actually save money by installing rooftop solar is just accelerating the trend.

That’s how you get the Tea Party forming coalitions with environmental groups in states like Florida and Georgia to encourage solar power. When “Green Tea” coalitions exist and grow in strength–and even Fox News covers it favorably–-you know it’s pretty much game over for the utilities that can’t shake themselves free of their 20th century stylings. The last time nuclear power was on a roll was the disco era of polyester and platform shoes. A retro return to that low point in fashion history is far likelier than the nuclear power industry ever returning to relevance.

This post is based on reporting that first appeared in several articles on NIRS’ blogGreenWorld, atwww.safeenergy.org http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/23/1359730/-America-s-nuclear-power-utilities-seek-big-ratepayer-bailouts#

January 26, 2015 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

USA looking at mnimum $348B for the decade’s nuclear weaponry

missile-moneyCBO: Nuclear arsenal to cost $348B over decade http://thehill.com/policy/defense/230520-cbo-nuclear-arsenal-to-cost-348b-next-decade By Martin Matishak – 01/23/15 1 The U.S. will need to spend $348 billion over the next decade to maintain its nuclear arsenal, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Thursday.

The nonpartisan agency said that, while the estimated price tag is lower than a previous estimate of $355 billion in December 2013, the figure still amounts to 5percent-6 percent of the Obama administration’s national defense plan over the next 10 years

 The CBO attributes the lower tab to “budget-driven delays in several programs, including a three-year delay for the new cruise missile and its nuclear warhead.” The Defense Department would be on the hook for $227 billion in costs, while the Energy Department would spend $121 billion, the agency estimates.

The updated estimate comes as the administration is set to unveil its fiscal 2016 budget on Feb. 2, and with sequester cuts set to resume, the timing could not be worse for the three legs of the U.S. nuclear “triad.” The land-, sea- and air-based platforms and the atomic weapons they carry “are reaching the end of their service lifetimes,” the CBO warns.

“Over the next two decades, the Congress will need to make decisions about the extent to which essentially all of the U.S. nuclear delivery systems and weapons will be modernized or replaced with new systems.”

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, argues the cost of maintaining the arsenal could still top $1 trillion over the next 30 years. He cites a report from the National Defense Panel’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review that found refurbishing all three legs of the triad would cost roughly that amount.

Last year, the think tank released a report that said the U.S. could save around $70 billion by adjusting plans for new ballistic submarines and bombers, delaying or nixing the purchase of new delivery systems and taking a new approach to rebuilding warheads.

“CBO’s reports on the projected costs of nuclear forces have brought a much-needed dose of fiscal perspective to the debate about the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Reif wrote.

“Whether one thinks the United States has too many or too few nuclear weapons, it is no longer possible to hide from their immense cost.”

January 24, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Florida lawmaker wants repeal of laws allowing nuclear power companies to get “advance money” from customers

text-my-money-2Flag-USALawmaker joins calls for repeal of nuclear advance fee with new bill, Tampa Bay Times, Ivan Penn, 23 Jan 15  State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, this week filed legislation to repeal the so-called nuclear advance fee that allowed Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light to collect money from their customers before new plants come online.

Ahern’s legislation is the third bill filed for the 2015 session aimed at ending the fee. The measure largely targets Duke Energy over its troubled nuclear operations detailed in reports by the Tampa Bay Times.

Duke used the advance fee to charge its Florida customers about $1.5 billion for the now-canceled Levy County nuclear project. In addition, the utility spent hundreds of millions of dollars more through the advance fee to increase power at the broken and now shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant. Neither Levy nor Crystal River will ever produce a kilowatt of electricity for the money.

“The consumers are being taken advantage of by utility providers,” Ahern said. “We need to take precautions to ensure that these types of events don’t happen again.”……..

The Murphy and Latvala bill would also require Duke Energy to refund all or most of the money collected from its customers through the advance fee.

Contact Ivan Penn at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332. Follow @Consumers_Edge.  http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/lawmaker-joins-calls-for-repeal-of-nuclear-advance-fee-with-new-bill/2214873

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

North Dakota citizens angry at plan to increase allowable levels of radiation at dump sites

radiation-warningFlag-USARaising radiation limits draws citizens’ anger Bismarck Tribune January 21, 2015   By LeAnn Eckroth A state Health Department plan to track and dispose of radioactive waste from the oil patch drew nearly 130 people to a two-hour hearing Wednesday in Bismarck. A majority who testified said the plan had serious gaps in public safety.

Signs against higher levels of TENORM — technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material — at special landfill sites were taped to the walls of the Environmental Training Center and even hung over a few attendees’ necks.

Dakota Resource Council members and members of area tribes said the state Health Department had given inadequate notice and education about the plan to increase TENORM levels allowed at radioactive disposal sites from 5 picocuries per gram to 50. They demanded more hearings, saying the Feb. 6 deadline for comments was not enough time…..

Audience members challenged whether the state agency had enough staff and money to fully regulate TENORM disposal sites.

“You told me that the industry came and asked you for this. I know no North Dakota citizen came to you asking for an increase in radioactivity to poison themselves, their children or grandchildren,” said Joletta Birdbear, a member of the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikira tribe and a DRC member.

Gene Wirtz, a farmer  from Underwood, said the levels shouldn’t be raised. He said county commissioners voted against a radioactive waste site near his home.

“I see this as an end run to get that dump back,” he said. “No amount of radiation is good. Anytime you raise the amount of radiation you are exposed to, you are going to raise the risk of cancer.”……..

A meeting was held Tuesday in Williston and a third was to be held Thursday at the Fargo Public Safety Building at 4630 15th Ave. N.

Radig said the state health officials will consider extending the public comment and education period on the draft regulations.

(Reach LeAnn Eckroth at 701-250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com.)    http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/raising-radiation-limits-draws-citizens-anger/article_7e95e08d-9526-5aa0-bc76-1114a9d7a925.html

January 24, 2015 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

US Republicans out to destroy nuclear talks with Iran

fight Iran Sanctions Supporters Don’t Want To Improve Nuclear Talks. They Want To Destroy Them. 
Huffington Post  01/23/2015 WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to have pulled off a masterful political victory against the Obama administration Wednesday when he revealed that he had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the dangers of the administration’s negotiations with Iran.Coming a day after President Barack Obama threatened to veto new Iran-related sanctions legislation that he said could harm the negotiations, Boehner’s move looked like a smart way to reinforce support for such bills — a priority for the Republican-led Congress — by showing that the U.S.’s top ally in the region supported them.

Then things started to fall apart.………

Kerry’s comment altered the conversation, making it about whether Republicans want to torpedo nuclear talks with Iran. The Obama administration describes the negotiations as the only way to ensure that Iran cannot gain a nuclear weapon to threaten the very country Boehner says the administration is failing: Israel. Kerry’s message: It’s Republicans, and the Democrats who support them on new sanctions, who would fail Israel by antagonizing Iran and destroying the chance of a peaceful resolution to the years-long controversy over Tehran’s nuclear program……….

the story had shifted as Kerry boxed the Republicans into admitting their possible true intentions — and all Boehner was left with was a promise for a Netanyahu address at the time of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in early March, by which point the administration has said it hoped to already have a framework for the deal.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu got his own rebuke as the White House revealed that it would not meet with him during that March trip. “We do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.

Ryan Grim and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

This article has been updated to include comments from M  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/22/kerry-israel-boehner-_n_6527826.html

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

US govt takes 4 years to respond – and reject – petition to to close Fukushima-style nuclear reactors

exclamation-SmFlag-USAFour years later, NRC rejects Beyond Nuclear and 10,000+ co-petitioners’ call to close Fukushima-style reactors Beyond Nuclear 23 jan 15  After nearly four years of behind closed doors deliberations, on January 15, 2015, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its “Final Director’s Decision” rejecting the April 13, 2011emergency enforcement petition filed by Beyond Nuclear along with more than 10,000 co-petitioners from around the country. The public emergency enforcement petition called for the immediate suspension of the continued operation of the General Electric Mark I boiling water reactors in the U.S. that are identical to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors units 1, 2 and 3 that exploded and melted down following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The NRC makes its best case for dismissing the petition by arguing that “each of the Petitioner’s requests has been addressed through other actions.”  We acknowledge that after four years a portion of the actions that we requested in April 2011 have been taken at some of these reactors. However, we strongly disagree with the NRC’s overall conclusion that each and every action request is addressed and that the public health and safety hazard is resolved such that the petition can be legitimately dismissed in total. We remain concerned that the agency is not capable of effective regulation and enforcement given the long standing nature of the Mark I reactor hazards and a recalcitrant nuclear industry that first considers its financial margins over public safety margins.

Regrettably, we recognize that under existing NRC provisions (Chapter 10 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulation Part 2.206) the public has absolutely no recourse to appeal a Director’s Decision to the Commission level or legally challenge Mark I design vulnerability and its operational hazards in a court of law. This denial of due process comes in spite of the fact that agency orders and industry corrective actions referenced in dismissing the petitioner are inadequate half measures that need not be fully implemented for years still to come, if ever. In critical safety areas for the Mark I, the proposed corrective actions credited in the Director’s Decision are not even conceptually finalized nor approved by the regulator as we approach the fourth anniversary of the nuclear catastrophe. Moreover, there are numerous agency staff non-concurrences on how to even proceed with post-Fukushima action plans………….

Any one of the hazards cited for suspension of the operating licenses in the April 2011 petition serves as ample reason for why the GE Mark I reactors need to be promptly and permanently shuttered.  But a primary focus remains on the threat of catastrophic failure of the Mark I containment under severe accident conditions.

The petitioners remain concerned that because the GE Mark I containment system is only 1/6th the size by volume of a typical pressurized water reactor like Three Mile Island it will not reliably serve to “contain” the tremendous pressures, extreme heat, explosive hydrogen gas and highly radioactive releases associated with an accident involving reactor core damage. In fact, this was demonstrated by a 100% failure rate of the Mark I containment systems for Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 2 and 3 which were operating at full power at the time of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The current action plan is  a rehash of a 1989 “fix” to deliberately vent a nuclear accident to the environment by temporarily defeating the containment concept to save it from permanent rupture. Moreover, the current NRC order to improve the reliability of containment venting systems similar to those that failed Fukushima, need not be fully implemented by industry until 2019.

Ironically, when the NRC’s Japan Lessons Learned Task Force reviewed the nuclear catastrophe for recommending modifications to the U.S. Fukushima-style reactors, the staff concluded that what was really needed was not only an enhanced hardened containment vent for the controlled release of heat, pressure and explosive gas but requiring the re-institution of the defense-in-depth concept to more reliably contain the high-level radioactive releases that would also be generated by the nuclear accident. On November 29, 2012, the Japan Lessons Learned Task Force recommended that the Commission issue an Order to all GE Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactor operators to promptly install hardened containment vents with the engineered radiation filters as a “cost-benefited substantial safety enhancement.” The nuclear industry vigorously opposed the additional radiation filter concept on economic grounds and “unintended consequences” and successfully lobbied the five-member Commission by majority vote to reject the filter recommendation on containment vents. The Commission instructed the NRC staff to take up consideration of the installation of radiation filters  in a proposed rulemaking and gather independent scientific expert experience as well as public and industry comments. However, in December 2014, the NRC rulemaking staff reversed course for considering the addition of external radiation filters and now seeks to abandon the rulemaking process effectively locking out public and independent expert input.

Our common struggle for real public safety, environmental protection and energy independence remains to permanently closing down an inherently dangerous atomic power industry.

Keep your eyes on the prize and hold on. http://www.beyondnuclear.org/freeze-our-fukushimas/2015/1/21/four-years-later-nrc-rejects-beyond-nuclear-and-10000-co-pet.h

January 24, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Research into problem of uranium mining & processing causing contamination of groundwater

SLAC Scientists Search for New Ways to Deal with U.S. Uranium Ore Processing Legacy New Field Project Tests Link Between Organic Materials and Persistent Uranium Contamination
22-Jan-2015  Source Newsroom: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Newswise — Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are trying to find out why uranium persists in groundwater at former uranium ore processing sites despite remediation of contaminated surface materials two decades ago. They think buried organic material may be at fault, storing toxic uranium at levels that continue to pose risks to human health and the environment, and hope their study will pave the way for better long-term site management and protection of the public and environment.

The contaminated sites, on floodplains in the upper Colorado River basin, operated from the 1940s to the 1970s to produce “yellowcake,” a precursor of uranium fuel used in nuclear power plants and weapons. In the 1990s, site surfaces were cleaned up, and remaining uranium in the ground was expected to flush out over time due to natural groundwater flow across the sites.

Uranium dissolved in groundwater flows slowly into nearby rivers, where it becomes diluted below the uranium concentrations naturally present in river water,” says John Bargar, SLAC’s project lead and researcher at the lab’sStanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. “However, studies have shown that the groundwater contamination is unexpectedly long-lived.”……..
A deeper understanding of the various factors controlling uranium mobility could potentially lead to better ways of cleaning up the nation’s legacy of contamination from uranium mining and processing, and may help researchers devise new remediation strategies for contaminated sites in the upper Colorado River basin and elsewhere……..http://www.newswise.com/articles/slac-scientists-search-for-new-ways-to-deal-with-u-s-uranium-ore-processing-legacy

January 24, 2015 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Study: Fukushima plume spread worldwide, far exceeding the hundreds of miles mentioned previously — 100 Quadrillion becquerels of Cs-137 released tops Chernobyl

“Implicates radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked”

January 21st, 2015

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (pdf), University of Florida College of Medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College, etc. (2014):

  • The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident is an example of a contemporary nuclear plant accident with serious implications.
  • The Fukushima NPP accident has had health implications due to the high levels of radiation released and vast area over which the radiation has disperse.
  • The significant radiation release, as likened to Chernobyl, reflects the context and severity of the Fukushima accident.
  • The level of 137Cs that was released is likened to Chernobyl levels, with 100,000 TBq released.
  • Radioactive plume dispersion occurs worldwide, far exceeding 300 miles previously mentioned. This should implicate radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked.

Potassium Iodide Distribution

  • Radioactive plumes from the Chernobyl accident containing 131I caused benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop, especially in children within a 310 miles radius of the incident.
  • The current recommendation is for KI [potassium iodide] availability to people 200 miles from a NPP. Plume radii for nuclear events have been shown to exceed 300 [miles]. Extension of KI availability to 300 miles only further underscores the inadequacy of current preparedness plans.
  • In regard to KI prophylaxis, TEPCO utilized 17,500 KI tablets for 2,000 onsite workers… with one individual receiving and taking 85 tablets.
  • Radiological plumes containing 131I cause benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop within a 300 mile radius… This necessitates KI pre-distribution to all schools, hospitals and other of-interest sites extending 300 miles from any nuclear reactor. Evacuation or sequestering is impossible in congested urban areas… There is currently virtually no compliance with [the] 20 miles radius KI pre-distribution law, section 127 of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. In fact, there is little compliance with the 10 miles Ki pre-distribution radius law in the United States.
  • Japan did not utilize KI for prophylaxis of the general public, acknowledging it was not prepared to act accordingly.

Source: Enenews

http://enenews.com/study-fukushima-plume-dispersed-worldwide-exceeding-hundreds-miles-mentioned-previously-100-quadrillion-becquerels-cs-137-released-tops-chernobyl-implicates-radiological-hazard-distances-overloo

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Canada, EUROPE, Japan, USA | , | Leave a comment

Dying Pacific Ocean?

Ocean_dumping_of_radioactive_waste_in_Pacific_Ocean

Monday, January 19, 2015

Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean.

Science 16 January 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6219
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255641
Review

Douglas J. McCauley Malin L. Pinsky Stephen R. Palumbi James A. Estes Francis H. Joyce Robert R. Warner

[excerpted] Wildlife populations in the oceans have been badly damaged by human activity…. Human dependency on marine wildlife and the linked fate of marine and terrestrial fauna necessitate that we act quickly to slow the advance of marine defaunation….

Three lessons emerge when comparing the marine and terrestrial defaunation experiences:

  • today’s low rates of marine extinction may be the prelude to a major extinction pulse, similar to that observed on land during the industrial revolution, as the footprint of human ocean use widens;
  • effectively slowing ocean defaunation requires both protected areas and careful management of the intervening ocean matrix; and
  • the terrestrial experience and current trends in ocean use suggest that habitat destruction is likely to become an increasingly dominant threat to ocean wildlife over the next 150 years.[end excerpt]

Ocean Releases

[Majia writes] Consensus holds that Fukushima constitutes the greatest radiological release into the ocean ever to occur. According to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, levels of radioactive cesium reached more than 100,000 becquerels per cubic meter in early April of 2011.[i] The World Nuclear Association suggests that 169 Petabecquerels of Iodine-131 equivalent were releases into the ocean from Cesium-137, Cesium-134, and Iodine-131from March 26 to September 30th.[ii] This figure does not include March releases into the atmosphere, which the World Nuclear Association calculates at 1020 petabecquerels from March 12 to March 31, 011. The French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) described Fukushima as the world’s worst nuclear contamination event ever for the ocean,[iii] reporting that from March 21st to mid-July 27, 27.1 petabecquerels of cesium-137 contaminated the ocean. One peta becquerel is equivalent to a million billion becquerels, or 10^15. [iv]

Atmospheric and direct ocean releases occurring as contaminated water spilled from reactors into the ocean caused radionuclide levels to spike offshore. Woods Hole scientist Ken Buessler revealed (12/12/2011) that Fukushima cesium-137 radiation in the sea near the plant peaked in April 2011 at 50 million times above normal levels (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2011/12/12/fukushima-ocean-radiation-was-50-million-times-above-normal-but-no-threat-scientists/).

In a separate interview with Straight on October 28, 2011, Ken Buesseler stated that Fukushima was by far the greatest accidental release of radiation into ocean waters, the magnitude of which in April 2011 was over one hundred times Chernobyl’s contamination of the Black Sea.[v]

These comments reflect concerns based on ocean emissions during the first few months of the disaster. Ocean contamination did not however end in the first months of the disaster. The releases of radioactive water from the plant into the ocean have been, in this writer’s opinion, ongoing because of the need for continuous cooling of melted reactor corium and the inability to effectively de-contaminate cooling water.

Reactors 1 through 3 have been continuously cooled since March of 2011 with water injections. The World Nuclear Association reports that by the end of March 2011 all water storage tanks – the condenser units and condensate tanks – around units 1 through 4 were full of contaminated water pumped from the buildings.[vi] Tepco built a wastewater treatment facility to decontaminate the water but has struggled with decontamination and storage given the volume of water being pumped into the reactor buildings and the level of contamination. During the summer of 2011 Tepco installed concrete panels designed to seal water intakes of units 1 through 4 in order to prevent contaminated water from reaching the ocean. In October 2011, Tepco installed a steel water shield wall between the units and the ocean.[vii]

Yet, despite these efforts ocean contamination has continued because the site is literally saturated from the ongoing water injections. In 2012, Tepco reported water injections as follows: five tons per hour at Unit 1reactor; seven tons per hour at unit 2; seven tons per hour at unit 3.[viii] No information was provided about any water injections into unit 4 or the common spent fuel pool. At 456 tons a day of water going into the units, we can expect substantial ongoing leakage into the ocean. In November of 2011,Tepco admitted that its filtration system at the plant dumped more 11,000 tons of water contaminated with cesium 134, 137, and Iodine 131 into the sea.[ix] Tepco stated that it had been spraying about 70 tons of water around the Daiichi compound a day since early October and that water in some trenches measured at 10,000 millisieverts an hour, which is 10 sieverts an hour, a fatal dose.[x]

Ken Buesseler speaking in March 2012, described the data from his international research cruise off Japan that took place in June 2011:
Despite the announcement in December that operators of the power plant had achieved cold shut down, we know they are still using tons of water to cool the reactors and that not all the water has been collected or treated. As a result, the ground around the site is like a dirty sponge, saturated with contaminated water that is leaking into the ocean. He noted that other scientists had confirmed his 2011 findings of radiation levels 400 miles offshore Japan. He pointed out that little was known about radiation levels at seafloor levels but evidence exists that marine sediments are collecting radioactive contamination at higher concentrations than in the water. He said that little information was available about the radiation levels of groundwater.

He tells the public that information about the extent of releases of contaminated water are lacking:
Other measurements show trends that are more worrisome. Levels of radioactivity found in fish are not decreasing and there appear to be hot spots on the seafloor that are not well mapped. There is also little agreement on exactly how much radioactivity was released or even whether the fires and explosions at the power plant resulted in more radioactive fallout to the ocean than did direct releases of radioactivity caused by dumping water on the reactors to keep them cool.[xi]  The Mainichi reported on April 3, 2012 that “Cesium up to 100 times levels before disaster found in plankton far off nuke plant” and that the “high concentration of cesium, which is believed to derive from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, suggests that radioactive substances that have leaked from the complex are spreading extensively in the sea.” http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120403p2a00m0na009000c.html

Cesium-134 deposits in marine snow gathered 2000 kilomters away from the plant at depths of 5000 meters measuring 1,200 Becquerels per kilogram indicate that radiation contamination from Fukushima spread far and wide.

Lack of certainty about the extent of initial and ongoing atmospheric and ocean releases of radiation from the plant complicates extrapolations of effects. Tepco has provided no concrete information about the extent of damage to the nuclear fuel in the reactors and pools. Mr. Yastel Yamada, a retired engineer and founder of the volunteer Fukushima Skilled Veterans Corps commented that the fuel from the reactors may possibly be in powder form.[xii]

The radiation contamination of the Pacific will be an ongoing problem. One study that modeled dilution declines of Cesium-137 published in Environmental Research Letters predicted that after seven years the “total peak radioactivity levels would still be about twice the pre-Fukushima values” off the coastal waters of North America”[xiii]. That study did not factor in ongoing contamination.

The risks from contaminated ocean water are not restricted to marine and coastal life. Long-lasting radioactive isotopes, such as Cesium-137 and Plutonium-239, will bio-accumulate in marine life in the same fashion that mercury bio-accumulates currently. Marine animals at the top of the food chain and birds that feed on marine life will become highly contaminated radioactively. The Canadian Museum of Nature notes that orcas are often considered toxic waste when they die based on their high toxicity.[xiv]

Furthermore, contaminants in the ocean do not necessarily stay in the ocean….
http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/compromised-oceans-mean-compromised.html

The Pacific Ocean was imperiled before Fukushima: what have we wrought?

Pacific Ocean tipping points? http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/pacific-ocean-tipping-points.html

Bioaccumulation: Cesium is One Among the 1000 Radi…

ENDNOTES

[i] Cited Hiroko Tabuchi. Fears Accompany Fishermen in Japanese Disaster Region The New York Times (2012, June 25): http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/world/asia/fears-accompany-fishermen-in-japanese-disaster-region.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120626

[ii] World Nuclear Association Fukushima Accident (2012, September last update), http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html

[iii] Fukushima nuclear pollution in sea was world’s worst: French institute. Japan Today Oct. 28, 2011 – http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-nuclear-pollution-in-sea-was-worlds-worst-french-institute

[iv] “Fukushima Disaster Produces World’s Worst Nuclear Sea Pollution. The Maritime Excective (2011, October 28) http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/fukushima-disaster-produces-world-s-worst-nuclear-sea-pollution.

[v] Alex Roslin http://www.straight.com/article-491941/vancouver/what-are-officials-hiding-about-fukushima?page=0%2C2

[vi] World Nuclear Association Fukushima Accident (2012, September last update), http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html

[vii] World Nuclear Association Fukushima Accident (2012, September last update), http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html

[viii] Sep 1 2012 TEPCO reports drop in water injection rate at N-plant. Yomiuri (2012, Sep 1), http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120831004812.htm

[ix] Robert Mackey and Ravi Somaiya (November 1, 2011) 14 Japanese Official Drinks Water From Fukushima Reactor Buildings. The New York Times By ROBERT MACKEY and RAVI SOMAIYA http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/japanese-official-drinks-water-from-fukushima-reactor-buildings/

[x] Robert Mackey and Ravi Somaiya (November 1, 2011) 14 Japanese Official Drinks Water From Fukushima Reactor Buildings. The New York Times By ROBERT MACKEY and RAVI SOMAIYA http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/japanese-official-drinks-water-from-fukushima-reactor-buildings/

[xi] Ken Buessler What Fukushima accident did to the ocean By Ken Buesseler, Special to CNN March 11, 2012 http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/10/opinion/buesseler-fukushima-ocean/index.html

[xii] “I Don’t Know What Would Happen”: Fuel from Fukushima reactors may be powder — If so, work almost impossible (AUDIO). Enenews (2012, ) http://enenews.com/dont-happen-future-fuel-fukushima-reactors-be-powder-work-almost-impossible-video/comment-page-1#comment-291586Mr. Yastel Yamada, a retired engineer and founder of the Fukushima Skilled Veterans Corps
Uploaded by: OccupyUkiah Filmed: July 30, 2012 Uploaded on: Sept. 27, 2012
[xiii] Erik Behrens1, Franziska U Schwarzkopf1, Joke F Lübbecke2 and Claus W Böning1 Model simulations on the long-term dispersal of 137Cs released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima Erik Behrens et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 034004

[xiv] Canadian Museum of Nature. Diving in (2011, March 3), of http://nature.ca/explore/di-ef/wcef_tfw_e.cfm.

Source: Majia’s Blog

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2015/01/dying-pacific-ocean.html

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Canada, Japan, USA | | Leave a comment

USA efforts to reform its dysfunctional nuclear weapons complex are just not good enough

highly-recommendedFlag-USARebranding the nuclear weapons complex won’t reform it, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Robert Alvarez, 18 Jan 15 “…….Although it is also technically under the aegis of the Energy Department, the US nuclear weapons complex has operated for decades on an entirely different philosophy. Called “least interference,” it is a philosophy based on an “undocumented policy of blind faith in its contractors’ performance,” in the words of a 1996 Government Accountability Office report. Despite several attempts at reform, the Energy Department’s management of the weapons complex was widely conceded to be an extraordinary and expensive mess.

missile-moneyIn late November of last year, with little fanfare, the latest in a long line of advisory panels recommended ways to fix the dysfunctional administration of the nuclear weapons research and production complex, which commands more than 40 percent of the Energy Department’s budget. The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise calls for elimination of the semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Agency, which Congress established within the Energy Department in 1999, and for the nuclear weapons program to be placed under the direct control of a rebranded Energy Department, henceforth to be known as theDepartment of Energy and Nuclear Security.

Given that the panel was dominated by members with ties to weapons contractors, it comes as no surprise that the panel’s report advocates a reduction in federal oversight of contractors that run the complex, in effect doubling-down on the least-interference policy that is at the heart of so many weapons complex problems.

And by focusing on branding and protection of contractors, this latest panel to examine the US nuclear weapons complex diverts attention from the thorny problem repeatedly raised by other expert panels: The nuclear weapons production and laboratory system created during the Cold War is simply far too large for the current military situation and needs drastic consolidation that includes the closing of labs and other facilities.

NNSA: A failed management fix. Wide latitude granted to nuclear weapons contractors, bolstered by national security secrecy, have enabled widespread problems in the handling and disposal of radioactive materials—problems that now constitute the largest and most expensive environmental mess in the United States. There were regular and frightening nuclear safety and safeguard lapses. Efforts to fix old weapons facilities and to build new ones became all-but-endless money-devouring boondoggles.

In response to these problems, Congress established the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) in 1999, giving it semi-autonomous status within the Energy Department and a bureaucracy separate from the department’s. Within this new structure, the NNSA was expected to improve oversight of a variety of activities associated with the weapons complex, including maintenance and modernization of the US nuclear warhead stockpile; operation of national research laboratories; and direction of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons production sites. It was also tasked with carrying out nuclear non-proliferation activities and housing—but not interfering with—the Office of Naval Reactors. “The new organization should focus on reducing bureaucratic red tape to free scientists to spend more time with experiments and less time filling out forms,” said then-Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who led the effort to create the NNSA.

Under the NNSA, however, management problems in the weapons complex not only continued but worsened. By November 2011, the Energy Department inspector general recommended elimination of “duplicative, redundant National Nuclear Security Administration functions” while calling for a process to downsize the Energy Department’s national laboratory complex.

To counteract this threat, the NNSA, its contractors, and Congressional supporters set into motion an effort to gain unfettered authority. By June of 2012, the House of Representatives passed a defense spending bill that, over the objection of the White House, granted unprecedented oversight of budgets to lab contractors and eliminated the Energy Department’s oversight and enforcement of health, safety, security, and financial standards. But the NNSA’s effort was punctured in late July, when three peace activists, one an 82-year-old Catholic nun, penetrated several security barriers to stage a non-violent protest at the nation’s largest nuclear explosive storage facility, inside the Y-12 plant in Tennessee.

Apparent conflicts of interest. After this embarrassing episode, a compromise was reached in Congress, establishing an advisory committee that would make recommendations about the fate of the NNSA. The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise was charged with recommending options for the “appropriate governance structure” of the nuclear weapons complex.

Congressional leaders appeared to pay little attention to appearances of conflict-of-interest as they appointed panel members who had remarkable connections to contractors that run the sites overseen by the NNSA—the agency whose leadership the panel was to review. The panel appointees with questionable connections include:…………..http://thebulletin.org/rebranding-nuclear-weapons-complex-wont-reform-it7935

January 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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